Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Summer bootcamp building successful entrepreneurs

[Queen's Innovation Connector Summer Initiative]
This year's QICSI participants, plus a puppy being trained by one of the QICSI participants as part of her business. (Supplied by DDQIC)

What would you tell people about your big idea if you were limited to three slides, two minutes to talk, and one minute for questions? It’s a faced-paced challenge a group of prospective entrepreneurs took on recently as part of their studies at the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI) program.

The summer program is part of the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC) and it’s one of the programs the centre uses to drive entrepreneurial opportunities in Kingston. Over the course of 17 weeks, the students start their own business while being paid and receive seed funding. Participants include students at Queen’s, and, this year, two students from Loyalist College. 

The weekly ‘3-2-1” presentations are part of the weekly QICSI agenda and its name refers to the number of slides and the length of the presentation. 

“The 3-2-1 presentations, coupled with the other elements of the QICSI agenda, are about thoughtfully unpacking the challenges and opportunities each team has identified with their business ideas, and using feedback from their peers and mentors to help them take the next step,” says Greg Bavington, Executive Director, DDQIC. “The feedback ties into our centre’s pan-university approach – this idea that each student, whether they are a future engineer or lawyer or artist, brings a different perspective and skill set. Just as you wouldn’t want a hockey team comprised of nothing but goalies, the diverse range of experience is also needed for sustainable businesses.”

The 3-2-1 sessions, which are attended by a couple dozen QICSI participants and a handful of employees, typically generate questions around everything from marketing, to patent and regulatory questions, and bigger picture strategy thoughts. In between the weekly presentations, the teams are developing their ventures, meeting experts in their respective fields, attending different QICSI workshops, and investigating the advice they were given during their 3-2-1 question period. Some of the ideas different teams are working on this year include helping people with sleep apnea rest easier, supporting gym members in meeting their goals, identifying potentially hazardous chemicals more quickly and accurately, and convincing North Americans that some duckweed belongs in their diet.

"Students in our Summer Initiative have gone on to start, and in some cases sell, multi-million dollar companies, and it all starts here,” adds Mr. Bavington, referring to past QICSI participants Mosaic ManufacturingCleanSlate, and music sharing platform LSTN. “In the short-term, these students are looking ahead to the end of the summer when they will take part in a pitch competition for a chance to win $30,000. But in the long-term, these sessions are valuable in helping the budding entrepreneurs refine their ideas, identify new opportunities, and maximize their chance for success post-launch.”

The DDQIC is funded by numerous philanthropic donations, government grants specific to innovation and entrepreneurship, and the internal Queen’s operating budget. For more information about the DDQIC, visit www.queensu.ca/innovationcentre.